John Rabe

John Rabe

Infobox Person
name = John Rabe

image_size =
caption = John Rabe
birth_name =
birth_date = birth date|1882|11|23
birth_place = Hamburg, Germany
death_date = death date and age|1950|1|5|1882|11|23
death_place =
death_cause = Stroke
resting_place =
resting_place_coordinates =
residence =
nationality = Germany
other_names =
known_for = Saving civilian lives during the Nanjing Massacre
education =
employer = Siemens AG
occupation = Businessman
title =
salary =
networth =
height =
weight =
term =
predecessor =
successor =
party = Nazi Party (later denounced his membership)
boards =
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parents =
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website =
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John Rabe (November 23, 1882 – January 5, 1950) was a German businessman who used his Nazi party membership for humanitarian purposes. His Nanjing Safety Zone sheltered some 200,000 Chinese from slaughter during the Nanjing Massacre.

Born in Hamburg, Germany, Rabe pursued a career in business and went to Africa for several years. In 1908 he left for China, and between 1910 and 1938, he worked for the Siemens AG China Corporation in Shenyang (Mukden), Beijing (Peiping), Tianjin (Tientsin), Shanghai and later Nanjing (Nanking).

The Nanjing Massacre

On November 22, 1937, as the Japanese Army advanced on Nanjing, Rabe, along with other foreign nationals, organized the International Committee and drew up the Nanjing Safety Zone to provide Chinese refugees with food and shelter upon the impending Japanese slaughter. He explained his reasons thus: "..there is a question of morality here.. I cannot bring myself for now to betray the trust these people have put in me, and it is touching to see how they believe in me." The zones were located in all of the foreign embassies and at Nanjing University. Rabe also opened up his properties to help 650 more refugees. The following massacre would kill hundreds of thousands of people, while Rabe and his zone administrators tried frantically to stop the atrocities. Although he tried to appeal to the Japanese by using his Nazi membership credentials, this had little effect.

Return to Germany

On February 28, 1938 Rabe left Nanjing, traveling to Shanghai and then back to Germany. He showed films and photographs of Japanese atrocities in lecture presentations in Berlin and wrote to Hitler to use his influence to persuade the Japanese to stop any more inhumane violence. Instead, Rabe was detained and interrogated by the Gestapo and his letter to Hitler never sent. Due to the intervention of Siemens AG, he was released. He was allowed to keep evidence of the massacre, excluding the film, but was not allowed to lecture or write on the subject. Rabe would continue working for Siemens, which posted him briefly to the safety of Afghanistan. Until 1945 Rabe worked in the Berlin headquarters of the company.

After the war, Rabe was denounced for his Nazi Party membership and arrested by the Russians first and then by the British. However, investigations exonerated him of any wrongdoing. He was formally declared "de-Nazified" by the Allies in June 1946 but thereafter lived in relative poverty. His family was also starving at one point in time when he (Rabe) was partly supported by the monthly food and money parcels sent by the Chinese government for his actions during the Nanjing Massacre.

Death and Legacy

On 5 January 1950, Rabe died of a stroke. In 1997 his tombstone was moved from Berlin to Nanjing where it received a place of honour at the massacre memorial site.

In 2005 Rabe's former residence in Nanjing was renovated and now accommodates the "John Rabe and International Safety Zone Memorial Hall", which opened in 2006. The Austrian Service Abroad has been invited to send a Peace Servant.

War Diaries

His war-time diaries are published in English as "The Good German of Nanjing" (UK title) or "The Good Man of Nanking" (US title) (original German title: "Der gute Deutsche von Nanjing").


A Sino-German movie about his life is planned and the shooting in Shanghai has started in fall of 2007 starring Ulrich Tukur, Daniel Brühl and Steve Buscemi and directed by Florian Gallenberger. [,]



* Erwin Wickert (editor). (1998). "The Good German of Nanjing: The Diaries of John Rabe", Knopf. ISBN 0-375-40211-X
* Original German: (1997). "John Rabe. Der gute Deutsche von Nanjing". Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Stuttgart. ISBN 3-421-05098-8
* []
* [ Museum Recalls Hero of 'The Rape of Nanjing'] Fall 2006 NPR program about Rabe
* [ John Rabe Communication Centre Heidelberg]

ee also

*Japanese war crimes
*Nanjing Massacre
*Minnie Vautrin
*John Magee (priest)
*Oskar Schindler
*Iris Chang
*Nanking (film)
*Chiune Sugihara - Japanese diplomat to Lithuania who helped thousands of Jews escaped the Nazi-occupied country.

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